Leighton Vander Esch is using his newfound celebrity status to give back.
The Cowboys linebacker picked up $45,000 of the $70,000 bill that provided a new weight room at his old high school in Riggins, Idaho.
The gym at Salmon River High School opened for use earlier this month after being upgraded with all new equipment.
“It was the first thing that popped into my mind because it was a big need,” Vander Esch told the Idaho Press . “It just made the most sense. A lot of the racks and stuff were all made in shop class and everybody has been saying we need a new weight room. It was barely even a weight room before, and now to see the excitement level of the guys using the new room has just been awesome.”
Vander Esch also provided new uniforms for the football and basketball teams through his Nike apparel deal.
“It just shows his roots and how much he’s connected and still interested in helping the youngsters that are trying to follow in the same path he did,” Salmon River football coach Ty Medley said. “The positive momentum it has already created in two weeks has been great. All of a sudden the guys are far more interested in working out because it’s high quality, brand new stuff.”
Vander Esch, who turned 23 earlier this month, walked on at Boise State University and was selected by Dallas with the No. 19 overall pick in the 2018 draft.
He set a Cowboys rookie record and finished third in the NFL with 140 tackles last season while also earning a Pro Bowl selection.